Hey there, friend. If you clicked to read more, I’m guessing you are in a tough spot. I’m writing this because I’ve been there and I want to try to help. Let’s virtually hug. Whoops! That was awkward. I forgot that I put an e-banana in my digi-pocket for later. Please try to take me seriously, anyways. I’m about to give you the tough love your amazing, loyal friends are afraid to give.
In our early 20s, we tend to commit to relationships we haven’t thought through because we are young and plan on being young forever. Some of us even do the whole co-habitation thing because like, eh, whatever, right? Parents just don’t understand! Wuzzaaaauuup??? The thing is, you change a lot in your 20s. Priorities change. The commitment starts to feel too deep. The stakes have gotten too high. You don’t even know who you are anymore! Is anyone else hot or is it just me??
A long, long time ago in a galaxy that is the same as this one, I did the whole painful, long term relationship break-up thing. During that time, I found myself absorbed into a world of endless conversation about other people’s relationships. Apparently, many of my mid-20s comrades had been silently torturing themselves about the state of their own relationships. Through these conversations, it became clear that we are all making this too complicated. If deep in your gut, you are not happy, then you should not be with this person. Simple as that. Entertaining other options while remaining with this person is selfish. Problem is, when you are in a long term relationship that has been set to autopilot as long as you’ve been an adult, something as simple as knowing whether or not you are happy inside is surprisingly difficult. Google searches don’t look into your soul (yet). You find yourself searching desperately for a guidebook that really doesn’t exist.
UNTIL NOW! BELOW IS THE GUIDEBOOK! YAY!
Do you enjoy love songs? Do the lyrics to ‘Water Runs Dry’ by Boyz II Men hit uncomfortably close to home? Does the everlasting love concept behind Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’ feel as elusive as the Easter Bunny? Songs about love should connect you to humanity, not embitter you. We’re way too young to be bitter, guys. Take a long hard look at your relationship if you are. Unless you’re one of those badass personalities who has hated love since you were 12. Then, you may have some other issues to work through, young friend!
Do you fantasize about your partner cheating on you? “Wait, you cheated on me? Ugh. Like, ugh. I guess I’m single now! Gosh!” Break up already.
How’s the fighting? Everyone deals with anger differently. The important part is that fights don’t get emotionally or physically abusive and end somewhat quickly in compromise. That compromise should affect things for the better as opposed to business as usual. If you are not happy with this person, compromise doesn’t come. Maybe you give in because you’ve stopped caring enough to look out for your own needs which, I must add, is a terrifyingly slippery slope towards depression-ville. Maybe you stubbornly refuse to accommodate this person because you don’t really care about their needs. Girrrrl. If either of you behave this way during fights, you probably should not be together. Unless you share a lung? Don’t date your conjoined twin! Stop that now! I should have said that at the beginning.
Do you say things that if you heard a friend say, you’d call them out? “I’m too old to be single,” “I don’t know if it’s possible for me to really be in love, anyways,” “I love him like a brother!” Well then. Try making this your new mantra; “I deserve true inner peace and happiness.”
But it’s not them, it’s me! Let’s say this is true. That your partner is perfect. They are Ryan Gosling and they love braiding your hair and making ice cream sundaes for you. Still, you aren’t happy and feel as though you are living a lie. Rats! Close but no cigar. Let your partner move on. They deserve to be with someone who they make happy and who loves rocking a braid. And you deserve to focus on your own happiness.
Listen. Truth is, yes, everyone is flawed. There are things you can accept about your partner and things you can’t. Relationships have rough patches, too. People love to tell colorful stories and nitpick little relationship details. But there is only one reason relationships end and that is because somebody is just not happy the majority of the time. The scale tips too far. Recognizing whether or not you are happy, deep in your gut, is a muscle you have to exercise. You have to work it out or it gets flabby. So start exercising that muscle. Figure out where your doubts are coming from and if you are happy. If you are not, there is no decision to be made, just action to take. You have to break up already.
Trust me, no matter how scary it seems, you’ll find a way. Be succinct and honest. Don’t beat yourself up. You haven’t failed. You’ve just reached a point in your life where you’re starting to know what you want. Ending this painful and confusing segment will open you up to opportunities you didn’t even know existed. When you choose happiness, the other side IS greener. And made of candy! That impossible green color comes from the fact that it’s factory processed sugar candy! Yay!